WASHINGTON — You can see Russia from the front of Sarah Palin’s book, “Going Rogue.” That’s because of its clever frontispiece, a map centered on the North Pole. Depicting the world that way puts front and center Ms. Palin’s beloved Alaska – as well as Russia, the nation Palin famously once said you can see from Alaskan soil.
One week into the Palin book tour, “Going Rogue” has been the subject of perhaps more publicity and commentary than all other books published in America this year, with the possible exception of Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol.” At this point, the highlights are pretty well known. The bill from the McCain campaign for her vetting – check. The way she was misled into her interview with Katie Couric – check. And so on.
Much less has been said about the book’s little revealing touches, such as the map. Barrow, Alaska, is marked on that map, but Boston, Mass., is not. Hmmm. Commentary on blue-state elitism?
And, did you know the first big word young Sarah learned to spell was “different”? You betcha. Also, Wal-Mart has named Palin’s hometown of Wasilla the Duct Tape Capital of the World. Husband Todd once helped fix the leaks in the Alaska governor’s mansion roof.
Palin’s father’s best friend was a dentist. At one point in “Going Rogue,” she recounts that this man loses his right arm in a tragic accident. He then retrains himself as a one-armed, left-handed dentist.
They’re tough people up there.
Anywhere, here are five “Going Rogue” good bits that you may not yet have heard about:
The ink incident. About the time she became a teenager, Sarah Heath (her maiden name) was sitting at the dinner table when her father noticed some ink marks on her hand. Her father – a teacher who at the time was also her basketball coach – surmised that his daughter had mooningly written some boy’s name on the back of her hand.
“You have a choice between boys and sports,” he told her. “You’re at the age where I start losing my good athletes because they start liking boys. You can’t have both.”
Palin stood up, went over to the sink, and washed the name off her hand. For her, it was fine for her father to set such high expectations, she writes in “Going Rogue.”
Breaker, breaker, it’s your boyfriend.” Her father’s stern tutelage notwithstanding, a few years later the young Sarah became enamored of Todd Palin, a quiet boy who’d moved to town to play basketball at the high school. He drove Sarah to practice. He owned both a car and a truck. He was polite. Her family approved. All was great.
But with four teenagers in the Heath household, calls to members of the opposite sex on their single phone line were banned. Sarah and Todd found a way around this when they discovered that if they stood on their respective back porches they could talk to each other on the VHF radios he used on his fishing boat in the summer.
They talked that way for months – until they discovered that the commercial trucks barreling through towns could hear them.
Palin kid hates his name. Sarah Palin’s oldest child is named Track. Her nature-loving father was thrilled; he was sure his grandchild had been named for the adventure of the hunt.
No, it was because the baby was born during the spring track season. As in, track-and-field. If he’d been born during hockey season, he might have been named “Zamboni,” writes Palin in her memoir.
As a youngster, Track did not like being teased about his name. He came home from kindergarten one day and demanded a change. He wanted to be named something normal, he said.
“OK, son, what should we change your name to?” asked Palin.
Track looked up at her, eyes ablaze. “Like I told you, something normal,” he said. “I want to be called ‘Colt.’ ”
Tough on families. In 2002, Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska ran for the state’s governorship, and won. The state’s political circles were abuzz with speculation as to whom he might name to finish out his Senate term. Sarah Palin’s name was on the short list of contenders.
Palin was summoned to Murkoski’s office for an interview. After a brief discussion of substance, he started talking about how tough the job of senator was on families. It was, Palin writes in her book, “a weird segue.”
He asked her plans for her kids, then repeated how tough it would be on them. At this point it became clear to Palin she wasn’t getting the job.
And who did get the coveted appointment? Murkowski’s daughter, Lisa – who also happened to be a mom with young children.
TV in the mirror. Sarah from Wasilla was not accustomed to all the perks that came with big-time politics, after she hit the trail as John McCain’s running mate. She was used to the Best Western Inn on Lake Lucille, where they did not provide guests with thick robes and slippers.
So the first time Palin and her girls stayed in a hotel where there was a flat-screen TV inside the bathroom mirror, they were impressed.
“That drew cries of ‘Way cool!’ from my girls,” Palin writes.
But on Sept. 1, 2008, Palin was standing in front of this mirror, watching the news as she brushed her teeth, when a crawl scrolled across the bottom, breaking the news that her daughter Bristol was pregnant.
“I nearly gagged on my toothbrush,” she wrote.